When one thinks about church growth what does one think about? What comes to your mind when people discuss church growth? Believe me, the topic of “church growth” is constantly on the mind and heart of almost every pastor. And sadly in today’s American church this is what characterizes and stigmatizes and distinguishes a supposedly good pastor from a bad pastor.
If you can grow a church numerically, and better yet if you can do it in very short time, you are suddenly lifted to rock-star status as a pastor. Just read the pastor biographies on the back of a best-selling book or take a glance at the speaker list for an upcoming church conference and you will read some of the most impressive qualifications found anywhere. “Pastor Jim started his church with seven people meeting in an abandoned warehouse basement. In just four short years they went from the original seven to a growing church of over 2200. Since then Jim has planted 6 churches, has written 5 best-sellers, holds three doctorates and has four grown children all serving worldwide in missionary work.”
The above is an actual and somewhat typical bio. And yet most faithful shepherds will never write a book, never be asked to speak at a conference and never pastor a church with a membership over 150.
And thus many pastors feel the pressure to compromise, to find and follow the latest and greatest church growth methodology or chase after the new and improved church expansion plan or blame themselves for the weak numbers.
But what does God’s Word have to say about church growth? To put it as clearly and simply as possible, God alone is responsible for His church to grow. He is the builder of His kingdom. And yet we too are called and expected to do certain things as a family of God. We are called to be faithful to those wonderful God-ordained means of grace that our Lord uses to build, encourage and edify His church. As we remain faithful to these means God will provide the fruitfulness. And the means He sovereignly chooses to use to build His church is through prayer, through worship of Him, by His Word, His Gospel and His Spirit.
Please pray with me; “O Lord, deepen our trust in You alone. Make us a people hungry for Your living Word; cause us to remain faithful to Your promises and leave the results of Your promises in Your hands. Give to us, dear Father, a boldness to constantly and unashamedly plant Your Gospel seed. Continually fill us with Your Spirit as we daily cry out to You in humble and heartfelt prayer and in joy-driven worship of You alone! Build Your church for Your glory and capture the hearts of all peoples, people of every tribe, tongue and nation. We pray this in the most holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!”